5 The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
Greetings! We are well and truly in the midst of winter, so it may seem strange that I am writing about the sun, shade and the moon.
Above are the next two verses from the School Psalm, Psalm 121. And in each Chaplains Corner this year I am exploring what this ancient text is about. And then we come to these verses, and they too are quite interesting. ‘The Lord is your keeper’ – what is meant by the word ‘keeper’ here? In our society the only time we tend to hear the word keeper is in relation to a ‘zoo keeper’, and very few other professions refer to the role of ‘keeper’, I can only think of sport, a goal ‘keeper’, a wicket ‘keeper’. The dictionary describes keeper as one who manages or looks after something. But the Hebrew word here for keeper means so much more, it is about care and provision. And it’s a central theme to our School Psalm, so much so it is repeated six times within the Psalm.
The sun shall not strike you by day – Heat stroke and even death was a real issue for the people of Ancient Israel, so the idea that God will shade you from the rays of the sun was very comforting.
Nor the moon by night – equally, protection and shade from the ‘moons’ rays was sought. They were believed to make people crazy, thus the word we have now – ‘lunatic’.
Protection and care – This Psalm reminds all who hear or read it that we are kept by the creator of the universe. Our needs and life are very important to the source of all life.
May you consider what the implications of being ‘kept’ are and what that could mean in your life.
by Alison Andrew, Chaplain